All right wind your neck in you naughty lot. I know exactly what you are thinking and whilst yes the earth has moved on a few occasions, it usually due to snoring vibrating the bed, or me having nightmares and giving Mr G a good old “doing” as we say in Scotland.
No the occasion I am referring to is one of the most moving and humbling experiences of my life. Earlier this year Nepal suffered a horrific earthquake, the whole country was turned upside down, schools and hospitals destroyed, temples devastated, homes obliterated, men, women, children, old and young maimed or dead, homeless, without food or water and with the real threat of disease imminent.
We have become numbed to human suffering. We see so much of it in the media that it almost becomes like white noise. It is easy to have the attitude that there is not much you can do. That the problem is just too big and overwhelming, so you switch off. Or feel that their problems are nothing to do with us as they are so far away, their life bears no resemblance to ours. Somehow because of the distance and the difference in how we live our life their suffering seems somehow less! A few people did say to me, “What can I do I am just one person?” Or “Well you can’t fix everything you will go mad trying.” Yes well! I am making no comment about that.
Usually I will make an online donation, whatever an evening out might cost me. That soothes my conscience and it feels like I am doing my bit. But this time I was floored, I was completely overwhelmed with grief, the faces of the mothers and fathers, monks and nuns, children and animals sat in my heart, so afraid, so lost, their homes gone, there was no real infrastructure to support them and the world seem to be collectively holding its breath awaiting the aftershocks, and watching the futile attempts at rescue in a country already politically and socially unstable.
On this occasion my donation seemed too little. I had to do more, I thought you know what, they are like me, what if it was me that had lost my home, my possessions, my memories, what if my kids had nowhere to sleep, nowhere to get medical help, what if there was a real threat to our immediate safety, what if we were about to lose all prospect of work for the next year or longer. Nepal as we know relies on tourism and after an earthquake the country becomes less attractive to tourists. It may be years even decades before we see them stand on their own two feet again.
I sat on my sofa and cried, I held the Nepalese in my heart and cried. I held them in meditation and cried. Then I rallied and decided to do something different!
What can I do, thought I to raise a bit more cash?
I know, I will come out of retirement and teach a yoga class. I was always being asked to so I was pretty sure I could raise a few hundred quid. I had taken a teaching sabbatical this year after the “business” that had grown up around yoga and teaching had become too much of a burden for me. I was finding the whole circus that had settled around classes sickening, the competition, one-upmanship and competitive posture selfies made a joke of what I had done for the past 20 odd years. Somehow I felt the essence of yoga was buried under who had the biggest class, who had the best handstand, who had the biggest following and so I had decided to take a break to reconnect with my own practise. To remember why I had started to teach in the first place and see if I could get back the love I had in my heart for the practise. Because if I couldn’t offer my classes from that place I didn’t want to offer classes at all. But I digress this is a topic for another post!
So the idea of offering a donation based class for my old students seemed like a plan. Someone would turn up I was pretty sure. We British love a good old fundraiser and if there was tea and cake at the end we were onto a winner.
What happened next was amazing, humbling, moving and life enhancing.
Within a day the class was full, yay! 20 students happy to roll out the mat. hand over £15 and bend and stretch for Nepal.
Then the tidal wave of love crashed against my heart, dozens of offers to help. Can I offer massage? Reflexology, can I bake cakes? Could I teach Pilates? Shall I bring a stall and donate half the proceeds? Shall I come and entertain the group while they wait with a song or three? Would you like a psychic.
Within a week we had gone from one class to taking over the whole community centre, which incidentally a kind man funded. We had an event, classes, music, food, stalls, chill out room, and the most bloody amazing raffle with £1500 quids worth of prizes.
A well-known artist Yvonne Coomber who I stalk, not in the creepy behind the hedge kind of way. More the equally creep liking every post and painting on FB type of stalking, donated a piece of art which we auctioned off for over £200 quid. Thanks again Yvonne you are a legend! The lady Mayor of our town snapped it up, we did enter into a bidding war as I really wanted it, she won! And the Nepalese are better off for it. £200 would kit out a small hospital with bandages, medicine and other mediciney stuff!
Mr and Mrs Mayor came along and opened our event, joining in the various activities including a group meditation. It was a sight to behold Mr and Mrs Mayor in full regalia, flanked by broad shouldered security sitting ankles crossed, hands in lap chanting along to Om Mani Padme Hum.
It was one of the most moving nights of my life. I dropped a seed into my community, “We Are All One.” I said and my community screamed back, “Yes we are.” That night over 50 people gave their services free, over 300 attended, raising in total just shy of £4000!
Never underestimate what you can accomplish, coming together, we are stronger, with compassion we can move mountains, with kindness we can create miracles.